Posts tagged Sense
What is white and glass and gold all over? Depending on who you believe, that would be the new iPhone. In addition to a gold variant, likely to be known as the iPhone 5S, Apple is also rumored to be coming out with some cheaper, plastic iPhones called the iPhone 5C that will come in a variety of colors.
Gold and plastic. A splash of color. These are not the black and white iPhones you are used to. What is Apple doing?
Apple has a variety of motivations to diversify its iPhone lineup. After six years, the general look and feel of the iPhone is beginning to feel dull. Compared to some of the innovative Android smartphones and Nokia’s Lumia line running Windows Phone, the iPhone looks downright archaic.
HTC’s flagship One smartphone (probably the best smartphone currently available on the market) beats Apple’s industrial design with its sleek unibody metal casing. Motorola will let you make a Moto X smartphone in a variety of colors and customizations. Samsung’s Galaxy S4 has souped up its specs and taken Apple to task with a variety of high-end gimmick features. Nokia makes the best smartphone camera on the planet.
Apple needs an upgrade in a big way.
But what about this cheaper iPhone, the 5C?
The supposed iPhone 5C is a different matter altogether. Apple has never released multiple versions of its flagship smartphone before and the company’s CEO Tim Cook has said previously that Apple would not create a “budget” iPhone. The problem facing Apple is that it does not have a good weapon to fight the Android Army (led by Samsung but also manned by the likes of Huawei, ZTE, LG and HTC) that dominates world smartphone shipments. The Asian Android manufacturers can flood markets like China, India, Indonesia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe with cheap smartphones that consumers are willing to eat up.
The new iPhones will be more than just a way to make a dent in the world of smartphone market share. Apple will likely be streamlining and diversifying its product base that will map its mobile strategy for the next several years.
Three iPhones, One Set Of Standards
Apple enthusiast and blogger John Gruber makes a salient point when discussing the motive for an iPhone 5C:
If Apple does unveil an iPhone 5C, I expect them to concurrently abandon the iPhones 4 and 4S. Their three pricing tiers for the next year would be a new iPhone 5S at the high end, today’s iPhone 5 in the mid-range, and the new 5C at the low end. This way, all new iPhones would sport 16:9 aspect ratio displays, and all would have Lightning adapter ports.
Apple’s previous strategy for lower-end iPhones was to make older models available for less. So, when the iPhone 5 came out (at $199 on a two-year contract in the United States), the iPhone 4S became $99 and the iPhone 4 was free on contract. The problem, though, is that the iPhone 4 and 4S have 3.5-inch screens, 3:2 aspect ratio displays and the old 30-pin connectors for charging and transferring files. Apple would like all of its devices to be on one set of standards, which means that the old iterations that do not comply must be tossed out the window.
With a lineup of the 5C, 5 and 5S, all Apple’s iPhones would have 4-inch screens and Lightning adapters. Developers will like the streamlined approach because it means they won’t have to build their apps for two different iPhone screen sizes going forward (though they will still have to support the existing iPhone 4/4S in users hands for a while).
Apple’s Ability To Make You Want An iPhone
No consumer gadget company in the world is as good at playing on human emotions than Apple. Between the elegant design of the iPhone (and iPod/iPad/MacBook/iMac and so on), Apple creates products that people crave. Apple computers and smartphones are status symbols—especially in the U.S., but also in international markets.
A sleek iPhone with an understated gold back that would sell for top dollar is a perfectly understandable product from a company like Apple. Call it gaudy or call it a gimmick, people will want to be seen with their gold iPhone 5S. The gold option would also make it stand out from the supposed multi-colored plastic back of the iPhone 5C.
The iPhone 5C will also pull at the heartstrings of consumers. People want to have the Apple “experience” and a decent smartphone, but don’t want to break the bank. The iPhone 5C could be sold for free on contract (like the way the iPhone 4 is now) or for as little as $350 off contract (which would make it attractive in emerging markets).
Apple will bombard consumers with marketing and advertising about the joyous joys of experiencing an iPhone. “Experience” will be the key word here, as Apple won’t want to directly remind people of the cheaper version while also still trying to sell it to anyone and everyone.
So look for more commercials that show off the camera experience, the app experience, the lucid delight of holding a product made from Apple. Just as we do from Samsung, expect a sickening display of iPhone-centric marketing to be pushed down your throats come the holiday shopping season.
How Will Apple Handle Two iPhones At Once?
Apple typically makes two versions of its iPhone based on the cellular chip inside. One is optimized towards the type of 4G LTE that companies like Verizon and Sprint use while the other is for the LTE/HSPA+ that AT&T and T-Mobile use. (This is a gross simplification, but basically Apple and other manufacturers use different chips to allow phones to work on the different frequency bands various carriers use to move voice and data).
Apple will want to get as wide a distribution base as possible with the new iPhones. So expect that the internal specifications of each new iPhone to have to standard models that can be optimized to just about any network in the world.
Apple’s strategy will not be like the one employed by its chief rival Samsung. The Korean gadget maker has a “spaghetti at the wall” type of approach to consumer electronics: throw a lot of stuff out there and see what sticks. Hence, you get a universe of Galaxy smartphones on Android, a bunch of Windows Phones and ATIV devices, styluses, tablets, laptops and on and on.
This is not what Apple will do with its new array of smartphones. Apple will be highly targeted with what it will call top end devices while competing with Samsung on price and features. Instead of the napalm bomb that burns the entire environment to the ground (but still gets the job done), Apple will be coming to the market with a laser precision.
Apple’s approach will inform how it releases and distributes iPhones for the next several years. Except this may be the only time we see a “C” device. Once Apple standardizes on screen size and the Lightning connector, it may go back to its old strategy of making older phones its budget options. For instance, when the iPhone 6 comes out, instead of making an iPhone 6C available for free on contract, the iPhone 5 would be the free version with the 5S as the mid-range version at $99.
View full post on ReadWrite
With a whirlwind of announcements at its Google I/O developers conference this week, Google’s vast suite of social products is finally starting to look like it was created by a single company and not cobbled together via a series of haphazard acquisitions. Here are the highlights of what’s changed:
Hangouts: Google Messaging, Unmessy At Last
Google is finally doing something to prune its thicket of messaging products. Let’s start with a look at the various chat and messaging products that were due for some much-needed spring cleaning:
- Google Talk. Talk was Google’s Instant Message client. It’s also called Google Chat or “GChat,” by many people who didn’t even know it was called Talk to begin with.
- Google+ Hangouts. Hangouts was Google+’s group video chat service, from the social network’s launch back in 2011.
- Google+ Messenger: A product redundant with Google Talk, Messenger was Google+’s own IM client.
- Google Voice: Google’s cult-hit digital telephony client, Voice allows users to route all their calls to one phone number. Google Voice works for calls and texting both on desktop and on its much-neglected mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Now, Hangouts becomes the messaging mini-umbrella under the social mega-umbrella of Google+. Hangouts, now available across desktop and mobile, will unify Google Talk, Google+ Messenger and the old Hangouts video chat service of yore.
According to a statement from Nikhyl Singhal, Google’s head honcho of real-time communications, Google Voice will be folded into Hangouts too (Yay!), though there’s no word on when.
Google+ Gets A Lot Of Love
Messaging may have been the messiest area of Google’s social services, but Google+ is the big umbrella that covers them all. Amidst the company’s epic 3-hour-plus Google I/O keynote yesterday, Google+ guru Vic Gundotra announced approximately one million updates to Google+, the social network that the company launched two years ago. Okay, he pegged the number at 41… but that’s almost a million.
The updates are extensive. As a regular Google+ user, it’s actually difficult to get a sense for what changed, since the redesign looks and feels right in stride with Google’s recent overall changes in user interfaces that runs from Google+ to Google Glass to Google Now and Android. So here’s a list of some of the most notable of the 41 updates:
- A multi-column layout. This can be toggled off, if you’re still into the Blogger single-column-era.
- Photos and videos get even bigger. Google is really into making media massive – and we would be too if the average person knew how to share properly high-res photos.
- New animations. Things are flipping and sliding all over the place in there.
- A third dimension. You can scroll up and down through your social stream, but Google wants you to be able to scroll in too. Now you can take a deeper dive on a given Google+ post -or is it a Card? I think we’re suppose to call everything Cards now — via related hashtags, which will lead you to more content of interest. It will also take you further down the Google+ rabbit hole, of course.
Lots of treats for photographers. Google+ has a thriving community of awesome photogs, and Google is keen to do right by them. Photos in Google+ now have all sorts of cool bells and whistles. A few I’m particularly stoked about include “auto highlight,” which de-emphasizes duplicate and blurry pics, automatically picking the best shot out of a batch. I’ve yet to test this extensively, but since I have a habit of bracketing (taking multiple shots at different exposures) – even on my phone – choosing the best photo of a set can be a major timesuck. This feature could help there. Another feature, “Auto Awesome,” can stitch together shots in a series to make a playful Photobooth-esque picture or even a Vine-like animated gif.
For a full breakdown of Google’s social updates, hit the company’s official blog post or just cruise around in Google+ for a while. The the social network has been the butt of many a joke over the last few years, and we’re happy to see Google take the time to spruce things up a little.
Photos by Nick Statt for ReadWrite.
View full post on ReadWrite
Sense, sensibility and SEO: Why search optimisation means nothing without …
Google has dedicated itself to devising increasingly fiendish algorithms to cripple SEO, but despite the many atrocities that have been perpetrated in the name of a strong listing, SEO continues to be as much a part of a marketer's armoury as any other …
View full post on SEO – Google News
That web design versus SEO debate: does it make any sense at all?
MARKETING: A perennial battle between the creatives and technical marketers – where the desire the usability and engaging design jars against those tasked with getting people in the front door. But does it actually matter who wins, or can there …
View full post on SEO – Google News
Search Engine Journal
Web Design vs. SEO: It Doesn't Make Much Sense
Search Engine Journal
Anti-SEO posts usually cause myriad reactions – “oh wow!”, “goddamn, not again!”, “this debate is eternal, like seriously”, “oh look, a link bait”… My reaction is: does all this make any sense? Of course it should. But in reality, it doesn't not at …
View full post on SEO – Google News
It’s a common sight: designers bashing SEOs and vice versa. We all have been seeing this happening for a long while now. And it’s probably not going to end any soon. It might get pregnant and more heated in a year or two, though. Unless, of course, both sides realize that they finally need to [...]
View full post on Search Engine Journal
Seems like only yesterday Apple was a simple company for Wall Street to understand. The products were great, demand was insane, and there was nowhere for the stock to go but up, up, up. Which is exactly what happened.
Those days are over. Apple’s stock has dropped 40% since last fall, from $705 to $426. This has happened even as the overall stock market has soared to new highs.
Wall Street has no idea what to make of this. Is Apple the greatest deal ever, or is Apple doomed? It depends who you ask. The opinions are all over the map. It’s actually kind of entertaining seeing Wall Street know-it-alls suddenly look so baffled.
Goldman Sachs says Apple is one of the most undervalued companies in the world. By that reasoning, the stock is a steal.
Citigroup says demand for iPhones and iPads is lagging, and that Apple won’t even hit its own revenue targets for this quarter.
It’s Not About Numbers
Wall Street guys will fret about how much cash Apple has, how cheap the stock is relative to earnings, what’s happening with gross margins, and so on.
But Apple’s stock price never had much to do with fundamentals. Apple is about emotion. It’s about narrative. It’s about mystery. It’s about secrecy and leaks, rumors and hype. It’s about people standing in line outside stores as if they’re going to a rock concert.
Apple does best when it lives in the realm that Arthur C. Clarke described when he wrote that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Magic is what Apple was selling when it introduced the iPhone and iPad. As long as Steve Jobs kept pulling rabbits out of his hat, customers (and investors) were dazzled.
The problem is now we’ve come to expect magic from Apple. And lately Apple hasn’t delivered.
Sure, Apple is a terrific, well-run company with a business that every company in the world must envy. The iPhone and iPad are terrific products, and Apple keeps making them better.
But: there’s no magic.
Wall Street keeps trying to tell this story in numbers. Gross margins. Net margins. Growth rates. Market share.
But numbers are almost beside the point.
Apple is a hits business, like a movie studio. Right now it needs a new blockbuster franchise. Whether that’s an iWatch or an iTV almost doesn’t matter. Apple just needs something. Something new, something exciting, something that gets people standing in lines outside stores again.
Apple needs magic. Whether Tim Cook and his team are capable of creating it remains to be seen. That uncertainty, I suspect, is what has shaved $260 billion from Apple’s market value.
View full post on ReadWrite
Google is reportedly working on a music subscription service to compete with the likes of Spotify, MOG and Rdio. It might seem crazy to jump into a crowded market whose basic business model is already questionable – but for Google it makes perfect sense.
The company is already a huge, albeit unofficial, player in streaming music. YouTube is now a top destination for listening to songs and albums, not to mention the trove of remixes and parodies that get uploaded everyday. Today, when teenagers want to hear a new song, they don’t turn on the radio or buy a CD. They go to YouTube.
There’s good reason for that. First off, it’s free. It also has an enormous amount of music. I’ve had premium subscriptions to Rdio, Rhapsody and (currently) Spotify. As extensive as those services’ libraries are, there’s lots of music they don’t have. Whenever I can’t find something on Spotify, I check YouTube and SoundCloud. It’s usually there. Want to stream the Beatles from your phone? Their songs are all over YouTube, not Spotify.
YouTube: The World’s Biggest Accidental Music Service
If there was any question about the critical role YouTube plays in music discovery, it was answered last week when Billboard announced it will factor YouTube listens into the formula behind its Hot 100 singles chart. In a post-”Call Me Maybe” world, it’s impossible to accurately analyze the popularity of a song without taking YouTube plays into consideration.
Of course, the music-streaming use case is not quite what YouTube was designed for. It’s a video site. It may work as a one-song-at-a-time music search engine to fill Spotify’s gaps, but it’s pretty poorly organized compared to existing music services. That’s why Google Music is a more logical and likely home for this rumored streaming service, presumably with some cross-promotion via YouTube.
The fact that people turn to YouTube for music is something that evolved organically thanks to its user-generated nature and Google’s willingness to pay licensing fees to keep the music playing. There’s still plenty of copyright infringement going on, but Google is getting more aggressive about dealing with that. The RIAA may still complain, but more and more, Google is catering to copyright owners. Initiatives like this are exactly why the Plex is so eager to please the content industry.
Thanks to YouTube and the Google Music MP3 store, the company already has relationships in place with labels, songwriters and other copyright owners. But those existing partnerships aren’t enough. The subscription-based streaming model is fundamentally different and requires unique, rather costly licensing deals.
Music Streaming Is About To Get Even More Crowded
If you think the music streaming space is crowded now, just wait. Deezer, a hugely popular streaming service now available in 182 countries, is in talks to launch in the U.S. sometime this year. This summer, another much-hyped streaming service will go live, this time from Beats Audio, which acquired MOG last year. Then there’s the ongoing rumor about Apple taking aim at Pandora with an iTunes-based Internet radio product of its own.
Exactly what Google’s streaming service will look like is anybody’s guess. That will depend in large part on what kind of content deals it can manage to negotiate. But the company is in a very good position to enter this space. After all, Google already has millions of streaming music users. It just needs to polish (and almost certainly rebrand) the experience and make it official with the major labels.
Lead photo by Alexandre Normand
View full post on ReadWrite